No better therapy than a good book

Published 3:38 pm Saturday, March 19, 2016

I once read that experts who study the human mind theorize that when you read a good book, it is akin to taking a short vacation. Then, when you stop reading, you come back to reality. By that time, you are rested and better able to cope with whatever faces you.

Anyone who knew my husband and is vaguely acquainted with me, knows there are plenty of books around my house. Enter any room except the bathrooms and you will find books. If there was once an empty space on any end table, filing cabinet, dining room table, or any other surface, one book or many books occupy it.

My husband was an avid reader. He told me that when he was a young soldier, he went to movies with a book in his hand. He sat in the theatre and read until something came up on the screen. I was an only child. Reading filled many hours for me when I had no one to play with. We both read at bedtime.

Through the years of our marriage, we collected so many books that we ran out of places to put them. After retirement, we had our attached garage converted to a library. We filled every one of the shelves with our books. We still had some left over. He named the room Shangri-La—our place to retreat and read. Recently I told a stranger who delivered a package to roll it into the library. She waved her arms when she saw the filled bookshelves. “Have you read all of those books?”

Both our children collect books. Our son has accumulated as many or more than my husband and me. He said when he had guests who noticed the rows and rows of bookshelves, they also asked, “Have you read all those books?” Of course, the answer is no. We both have read many of them, though.

Several years before my husband’s death, his macular degeneration condition began robbing him of his sight. He eventually had to give up his beloved hobby of reading books he held in his hands to listening to books on tapes. He ordered them from the wonderful Library for the Blind and Handicapped in Montgomery.

Among those on my bookshelves are several from my childhood. There is at least one from my husband’s. He treasured the Bible storybook that his mother often read to him and his sisters. “Down the River with the Teenie Weenies” survived my childhood, although now tattered and missing a page or two. Many books beloved by our children still sit in our library. Several include fairy tales and adventure stories. I am thankful these wondrous stories were there within their reach to take them on imaginary travels.

Children’s books of old favorites with new illustrations interest me. I still have an indelible image of the pictures in my favorite storybooks as a child.

I believe the experts. I have never found better therapy than a good book.

Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.